Gridwork is Here!! Free Shipping with $50+ Purchase (Use Code SHIP)

First of all – huge thanks and hugs to those of you who commented on my last post about my blogging goals for the new year. I’m so grateful to all of you who read this blog. Your kind thoughts really made my week!!

Today I’m excited to announce that my new Gridwork fabric is finally here – whoo hoo!! Gridwork by Christa Watson

Gridwork Bundles

Gridwork includes 27 prints divided into three colorways: Amethyst, Breeze, and Citron. Each colorway includes a total of 9 pieces  and they are available in fat quarters, half yards, or full yard bundles.

Use code SHIP at checkout on orders of $50 or more for a bonus free shipping discount!

By request, I also put together a Gridwork neutrals bundle – 8 pieces of the black, white and gray prints from among all three colorways:Gridwork Neutrals 8

Gridwork by the Yard

Of course, you can pick and choose your favorite prints by the yard, too! There are a total of 6 different geometric designs with several colors of each. Here they are grouped together by print:

Arches Stripe in Blue, Turquoise, and Fuchsia

Gridwork Arches Stripe

Gridwork Arches Stripe

Diamond Ovals in Citron, Purple and Turquoise

Gridwork Diamond Ovals

Circle Grid in Caribbean, Purple/Red, Grape/Blue, and Black

Gridwork Circle Grid

Gridwork Circle Grid

Hourglass in Gray, Black/white, Red/pink, Purple and Blue

Gridwork Hourglass

Gridwork Hourglass

Gridwork Hourglass

Square Grid in fuchsia, Lime, Navy, Grape, Black, Cloud, Lt Gray, Gray

Gridwork Square Grid

Gridwork Square Grid

Gridwork Square Grid

Square Dots in Pink, Sky, Citron and Black/White

Gridwork Square Dots

When Gridwork first arrived, I created an unboxing video on Youtube. It always feels like Christmas when I get new fabric, but these actually DID arrive right before Christmas and I couldn’t wait to dive into them!

Gridwork Precuts

Gridwork comes in all of the standard precuts, too: 5″x5″ charm packs, 10″x10″ squares, and everyone’s favorite: 2 1/2″ strip rolls which Benartex calls “Strip-pies.”

The Strip-pie includes 40 strips with 1-2 of each print as shown below:

Gridwork Strippie

The 5×5 Charm pack includes 42 squares with 1-2 squares of each print in the line:Gridwork Charmpack

The 10×10 pack, aka “layer cake” includes 42 squares that are 10″ x 10″, with 1-2 prints each:

Gridwork by Christa Watson for Benartex

Free Shipping on $50 or More – Use Code Ship

To thank you for being a loyal blog reader, I’d like to offer you free shipping on your Gridwork fabric purchase. Use code SHIP at checkout to get free US shipping on orders of $50 or more. International customers will get $5 off the shipping cost order and I’ll refund any excess international shipping charges.

I sure hope you enjoy Gridwork as much as I do! When you share your makes on social media, please use the hashtag #gridworkfabric so I can see what you are creating. I love to re-share and inspire others, too!

Now what will YOU make?

Paper Pieced Primrose Quilt Along Starts Next Week!!

Are you planning on learning to foundation paper piece in the new year? With my Pieced Primrose pattern, learning this skill is much easier than you’d think!! Be sure to let me know in the comments if you’ve done paper piecing before, or if this will be your first experience with it.

Pieced Primrose Quilt Pattern

The fun begins on Monday, January 6th with weekly posts to keep you on track for finishing by the end February. But you can still work at your own pace, and I’m here to cheer you on, no matter how long it takes!

Next week’s introductory post will talk a little bit more about the tools and supplies and general foundation  paper piecing tips. Then we’ll dive into cutting the following week, so you still have plenty of time to gather your fabrics and supplies.

Click here for the complete quilt along schedule and supply list.

Paper Piecing Notions

Click here to get my favorite notions for successful foundation paper piecing.

We’ll take extra time to piece the blocks and will finish up with basting, machine quilting and binding. After all, if you’ve done a quilt along with me before, you know how much I detest these three little words, “quilt as desired!”

Pieced Primose Quilt Abstract Garden Cool

Pieced Primrose shown in the Cool colorway of Abstract Garden above.
Pieed Primrose shown in the warm colorway of Abstract Garden below.

Pieced Primrose Abstract Garden Warm

My Pieced Primrose quilt pattern is super versatile and you can sew up as many blocks as you like with several different layouts. And it looks fabulous in ANY fabrics you choose to use. So I hope you’ll join the fun and consider me your cheerleader for “Start to Finish” quilting!!

Make the Rounds Quilt Pattern and Kit Available

Did you see this amazing quilt, designed and made by my friend Heather Black? She used my Geo Pop fabric and it’s in the current issue of American Patchwork and Quilting (February 2020).

Make the Rounds by Heather Black

Click here to get the quilt kit for Make the Rounds.

Before the issue went to print, APQ magazine contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to offer kits for this quilt since it’s so eye catching. I immediately said yes and they were kind enough to mention my fabric and include a link to my shop in the magazine pattern.

Here’s a photo of the magazine cover, so you know which issue has the pattern:

American Patchwork and Quilting Cover Feb 2020

It’s no secret that I simply adore all of Heather Black’s quilt designs. She really makes my fabric look good, don’t you think??

This is what she had to say about the design of this quilt, “When making a quilt, I like to choose a theme, either literal or figurative to help guide my choices while picking fabrics and quilting. I wanted to convey a sense of movement, and the name of this quilt [Make the Rounds] helped me pair colors and choose how to quilt the top.”Make The Rounds Quilt by Heather BlackDesigned by Heather Black. Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2020 Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The kit includes the same fabrics shown here for blocks, borders and binding. The background behind the blocks consists of all one fabric.

Of course I’m biased because it’s using my fabric, but I just love the bold design and energy in this quilt! I think Heather did a fabulous job with color placement, and I love how she fussy cut the Mosaic Dots print to create a frame in the borders. Heather is an expert with modern pieced curved designs, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Machine Quilting by Heather BlackQuilting detail on Heather’s quilt. 

Infrastructure Week 12 – Binding by Machine

Have you enjoyed following along with Infrastructure? Remember, even if you haven’t even started your quilt, you can make it anytime and I’m here to help cheer you on! We’ve come to the very last step of making the quilt and I’m “sew” excited to share my tutorial for binding by machine.

Infrastructure Quilt

Click here to get the Infrastructure quilt kit while supplies last.

Step 1 Trim the Quilt

Infrastructure Quilt in Progress

I like to use a large square ruler at the corners and along straight ruler for the sides. I trim the extra batting and backing flush with the edges of the quilt so that I can get a nice, tight binding. I’ll sew with an accurate 1/4″ seam and try not to cut off any points along the edges.

Step 2 – Cut the Strips and Sew Continuously

Geo Pop fabric for binding

The length to cut your strips is a personal preference. For this quilt I experimented and cut them out at 2 1/2″ wide so it would give me enough room to finish by machine. But I usually like to cut them narrower at 2″ so I get a nice tight binding that’s even on both sides. Here’s an easy way to calculate the # of strips you’ll need. Take the perimeter of the quilt and add 10″. Then divide that number by 40″ and that will tell you how many strips to cut.

Tiny Hex Fabric Binding

Sew the strips together end to end, mitering each of the corners so you get a long continuous strip. Cut one end at a 45 degree angle so the end and beginning are hidden. Then press the entire binding in half, wrong sides together.

Step 3 – Bind by Machine

Sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt and then secure it to the FRONT of the quilt with a decorative stitch so that it becomes part of the design!

Infrastructure Quilt using Geo Pop

Watch me sew the Binding & Follow Me on YouTube!

I’ve put together a short 6 minute video showing how I sew the strips and attach the binding by machine.

The difference between hand binding and machine binding is which side of the quilt I sew it on. I sew it to the back and finish by front by machine. Or I sew it to the front and finish on the back by hand. But whichever technique you choose is completely up to you!

Click here for my hand binding tutorial.

THIS WEEK’S GIVEAWAY & HEATHER’S VERSION

Click here to check out Heather Black’s tips for binding by hand on her blog at Quiltachusetts.

While you are there be sure to enter the giveaway on Heather’s blog. Aurifil is giving away two large cones of their 40 weight, 3 ply thread in fave colors of dove and light beige.

Aurifil Thread Cones

QUICK LINKS

I sure love seeing everyone’s progress pics. You can also share on instagram by tagging  us @christaquilts  and @quiltachusetts and use the search hashtag #infrastructurequilt in your post so others can see, too!

Infrastructure Quilt Along Week 11 – Machine Quilting

And now we get to my favorite part of making a quilt – machine quilting!!! There are so many different ways to quilt this quilt. Heather Black did an amazing job custom quilting hers, and I took the opposite approach with one of the simplest designs you can do – decorative machine stitching.

Decorative Stitch Machine Quilting

Infrastructure Machine Quilting Detail Using a Decorative Stitch

Thoughts on Thread

Christa Watson Aurifil Thread

Click here to get my Aurifil Thread Kits in Colors, Neutrals, or my newest Variegated box.

So the first thing to do is choose the thread you’d like to quilt with. I piece AND quilt all of my quilts using Aurifil, 50 weight, 100% cotton thread from my 3 thread collections. It’s thin, yet strong and blends into my quilts so all you see is the yummy texture. I use leftover bobbins for piecing my next quilt and I never have to worry about which bobbin matches which spool since they are all the same weight!

I like to use the same color thread in top and bobbin so that I don’t get “pokies” on my quilt – those little dots of thread that appear when your tension is the tiniest bit off and you are using highly contrasting thread.

Aurifil Thread

The light gray/blue #5007 can be found in my Piece and Quilt Neutrals collection.

I used Aurifil #5007 light gray/blue from my Neutrals thread box. It’s one of my favorite go-to neutrals because it blends with nearly every color. When I’m doing an allover edge-to-edge quilting design, I don’t want to have to stop and switch thread colors while I’m quilting.

Because the spools hold so much thread on them, it took me less than one spool to quilt the entire quilt, including the front and back.

Make a Quilting Plan

I love figuring out HOW I’m going to quilt ahead of time, so I don’t have to think too much. I will usually print out a copy of the quilt top from the pattern (you can photocopy the pattern cover for personal use, OR you can take a picture of your finished quilt top). Then I draw all over it until I come up with something I like. I include quilting suggestions in ALL of my quilt patterns to help you out with each quilt you make.

Infrastructure Quilting Plan

Above is the illustration that’s included in my Infrastructure Quilt Pattern. Here’s the basic idea: choose a decorative stitch on your sewing machine and quilt a series of lines across the quilt from one side to the other.

Make them as light or dense as you like and use my “divide and conquer” method: quilt one set of lines “near” the ditch instead of IN the ditch for each row. Then go back and quilt additional passes across the quilt, shrinking up the open spaces until the entire area is filled.

You can use ANY decorative stitch on you sewing machine. Play around with length and width settings until you find something you like, and stitch on a practice sample before you quilt on the real thing. Here’s a picture of the settings I chose on my machine, a BERINA 770 QE:

BERNINA 770 QE

I’m using decorative stitch #16 which is known as a running stitch or a broken zig-zag. It creates several stitches each time it zigs and zags, so you can make it bigger than the default settings and it still looks great! I adjusted my width to 6.0 and my length to 3.0 because I like the way it looks. Don’t forget to use a zig-zag needle plate so you don’t break a needle when it moves back and forth!!

The Quilting

Here are some beauty shots of the decorative stitch quilting in process. I made sure to NOT try to line up the quilting lines perfectly because I love a more organic look. The more quilting I did, the more beautiful texture it added to the quilt and the more the thread blended in. After all, the best way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with MORE imperfect stitches!!

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

Here’s what it looks like when I’m stitching “near” the ditch in each row. You can see all the imperfections up close, but fortunately they get hidden when more quilting is added.

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

I’m filling in the spaces between the first pass with randomly spaced lines. I’m using the 20D foot on my BERNINA with the integrated dual feed. It works just like a walking foot and I don’t have to mark anything. I’m using the edge of the foot as a guide for some of the lines.

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

What this section looks like when it’s completely filled in.
None of the lines match up and some are a bit irregular – I love this look!!

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

Another section complete. Look how well the stitching blends in to the quilt!

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

This is one of my favorite designs because it adds great texture to ANY quilt! 

See it In Action

Here’s my latest YouTube video, showing me quilting this decorative stitch on my quilt. It did take a few hours to accomplish, but I just worked on it a few minutes at a time over several days. It’s my joy and my zen when I get to do mindless quilting like this, and once you let go of perfection, it’s really quite fun!

Next week we’ll finish up with machine binding, including another video tutorial – so stay tuned!!

This Week’s Giveaway & Heather’s Version

Heather did some amazing custom quilting on her computerized long arm machine. Pop over to her blog at Quiltachussetts for more about how she chose her designs.

While you are there be sure to enter the giveaway on Heather’s blog. One lucky winner will receive one box of my Variegated thread collection, courtesy of Aurifl!! How cool is that???

Variegated collection by Christa Watson

Quick Links

Infrastructure Quilt

Finished Infrastructure quilt on my design wall!! You’re almost there!!!

Quilt Market Wrap Up Fall 2019 – Showcasing Gridwork

I had an amazing time at fall quilt market last month. This is the semi-annual trade show where I get to debut my new fabric and patterns. I was able to share my newest fabric line, Gridwork which is shipping to shops in January of next year.

My Gridwork Booth

Quilt Market Fall 2019 Gridwork

My booth featured two new quilt patterns that I released, plus fabulous quilts made by my friends: Charisma Horton, Heather Black, Annie Unrein and Linda Sullivan.

Gridwork by Christa Watson for Benartex

Here’s a closeup of the Gridwork fabrics displayed in my booth.

The Shoes!!! And Matching Outfits!!!

Each time I have a booth, I love creating something fun to wear from my fabrics. This year, I made 4 aprons and paired them up with fun pairs of Fluevog shoes. Each market I purchase a new pair that matches my fabric which is always a great excuse for shopping, right?

Gridwork Fabric & Fluevog Shoes

Day 1:  I designed the Citron colorway of Gridwork to match my fave pair of shoes!!

Gridwork Fabric Fluevog Shoes

Day 2: It’s so fun to match my outfit to my quilts!!

Gridwork Fabric Fluevog Shoes

Day 3: I bought the blue pair this season and they are sooo comfy!!

Gridwork Fabric Fluevog Shoes

Day 4: here’s a closer look at the purple patent leather shoes I got to wear twice.

I paired up the aprons and shoes with a matching Tshirts that I had custom printed with #gridworkfabric on the front and #benartex on the back. I figured I was the best walking advertisement for my fabrics, right??

Benartex Gridwork Tees

The People!

It’s always fun to meet up with new friends at quilt market and make new connections with quilt shops who carry my fabric, and designers who want to work with my fabric. But the highlight of working with Benartex has been getting to know the other fabric designers. All of our looks are so different, yet they complement each other very well!

Benartex Fabric DesignersBenartex designers featured at fall quilt market included: Paula Nadelstern, Cherry Guidry, Shelley Cavanna, Ann Lauer, Weeks Ringle (& Bill Kerr), me and Amanda Murphy.

We roped our fearless leader, Benartex president David Lochner into posing with us and he was such a good sport! A you can tell, we like to have a good time!!

Over the 3 years since I’ve been with Benartex, I’m especially grateful to learn from superstars like Eleanor Burns and Paula Nadlestern. These ladies have been my heroes since I began quilting over 20 years ago and I pinch myself that I get to call them my colleagues and friends!!Christa Watosn, Paula Nadelstern, and Eleanor Burns

Paula Nadelstern and I shared some fun moments on the show floor when I gave her some Instagram posting tips. She repaid the favor by recommending me for some upcoming teaching events, so stay tuned for more!

Another highlight of the show was the Benartex company dinner in which I got to sit next to Eleanor Burns. She made my night when she complimented me on my energy level. This is high praise from the energetic queen of quilting!!

The Projects!!

It was fun to spot my fabrics in other booths. I love it when designers want to showcase my fabrics in their new patterns because that exposes my fabrics to their customers who may not have seen it yet. And in turn, I get to share some talented designers with you all!!

By Annie with Geo Pop and Gridwork

By Annie had a wonderful display of bags, containers and other projects made from both Gridwork and Geo Pop. It was fun to see how great they looked next to colorful fabrics from Tula Pink! 

Brewer Booth

Brewer is one of the distributors that also carries my fabric and patterns for shops to purchase all in one spot. I was thrilled that they wanted to hang two of my quilts in their booth to promote my current patterns: Infrastructure and Color Weave. This is a great example showing how well my fabrics from different collections mix and match with each other.

Dapper from The Stitch TV Show

My friends Lynn and Pam from The Stitch TV Show created a fun new pattern called Dapper, featuring colorful bowtie blocks made from Gridwork + solids. They are always a hoot to listen to online and in person!!

Everyday Stitches and Gridwork

Jenifer Dick from Everyday Stitches also debuted a new fun pattern in her booth at quilt market using Gridwork fat quarters + background fabric. I love seeing how others use my prints!

I had a fabulous, though exhausting time and I’m thrilled with how many more shops are getting interested in my fabric. If you want to share the fabric love, be sure to ask your local quilt shop to order Gridwork (and any of my other fabrics) from their Benartex sales rep. Now it’s time to make more quilts!!

The Making of Bling Quilt Part 1 of 4 – Choosing Fabrics

I enjoy sharing my process of quilt making so that you can have more success when you make your own quilts. Over the next 4 blog posts, I’ll share my process for making Bling – one of my newest patterns featuring my 4th fabric collection – Geo Pop for Benartex/Contempo. Of course it would look great in any fabrics, which is what today’s topic is all about.

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

I love this design for Bling, and especially enjoy making fat quarter friendly quilts. When choosing fabrics, the easiest way to choose colors for a successful quilt is to pick a whole bunch of fabrics that you like with the same theme or color scheme, then pair them up with a highly contrasting background fabric.

Geo Pop fabric by Christa Watson

Geo Pop fat quarters for Bling.

For example, I knew I wanted to use as many fabrics as I could in the line and most are all very bright. So bright, bold, and geometric was my fabric “theme” for this quilt.

Because there’s a lot going on with the fabrics themselves, I paired them up with the lightest fabric in the line and the darkest fabric in the line to ensure there was contrast between the main fabrics and the background. I honestly couldn’t decide which I liked better, so I decided to make both quilts!

Geo Pop fabric by Christa Quilts

I used Tiny Hex black for the darker background and Op Squares white for the lighter one.

For me, fabric selection really is that easy. I don’t get hung up too much on color theory; rather I just go with my gut feeling. After all, most of us are pretty successful choosing what to wear each day, so choosing the colors our quilts will wear isn’t that much different, right?

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

Geo Pop – 20 Colors for Bling.
Click here to get the kit of 20 FQ’s plus background fabric.

My Bling quilt pattern calls for 20 fat quarters + 4 yards of background fabric for the Twin size that I’m making. Geo Pop has 25 prints in the line including several light and dark grays. To ensure I had the most contrast possible, I pulled out the 5 light and dark grays and just use the more colorful prints. I’ll plan to use the leftovers in another project, or add them to my stash.

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

I pulled these grays out of the bundle and will use them in another project.
You could also piece them into the back of the quilt.

For the white version, I’m using some of the leftovers to make a scrappy binding that frames the quilt. For binding on the black version, I’ll use the same fabric as the background so that the the negative space goes all the way to the edges – two slightly different looks for two great quilts!

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

Geo Pop full collection – 25 colorful prints!

The first step after choosing fabrics is to prewash and starch. I always prewash any fabric that’s a fat quarter or larger. My favorite starch is inexpensive Faultless premium starch from the grocery store. To prevent flaking, I spray starch on one side of the fabric, and then iron it from the opposite side, then repeat for both sides of the fabric.

In the next post, I’ll show you these lovelies all cut and ready to piece, so stay tuned!

Relevant Links:

***Thanks for your purchase – your support of our mom and pop shop makes my day!!***

LatticeWork Quilt Part 2 of 2 – Quick and Easy Walking Foot Quilting

If you missed it, click here for part 1 – tips on sewing the LatticeWork quilt top.

LatticeWork quilt by Christa Watson

LatticeWork is made from charm packs; I used my Abstract Garden fabric line.

Today I’ll be sharing how I quilted my LattticeWork quilt using a super simple, fast and fun walking foot quilting design. It’s called “wavy grid” and it’s one of my fave designs when I’m on a deadline, so you’ll probably see it in lots of my quilts!

Here’s a close detail shot of what it looks like quilted with my Aurifil Variegated Thread collection. I love the funky modern texture it adds to the quilt, especially where the thread contrasts the most:

LatticeWork Quilt Detail

The most fun part about machine quilting is choosing which thread color I’m going to use to quilt it. Because this quilt was so colorful, I could have used nearly any hue and it would look great. Below are the colors in my Variegated Collection.

Variegated collection by Christa Watson

Variegated collection by Christa Watson

Click here to get my Aurifil Variegated Thread Collection.

I chose to go with the cheddar/orange color because the variegation is really subtle and it reads as one shade of orange. But I love the slight sparkle that the it adds to the quilt!

Wavy Grid Quilting Detail

How to Quilt a Wavy Grid

Because I’m quilting continuous lines all the way across the quilt from edge to edge, it’s easiest done with a walking foot (or a built in dual-feed system like I’m using on my BERNINA 770 QE). The idea is to quilt a “line” from one end of the quilt to the other and slightly rotate the quilt from side to side to form the wavy lines.

First I do what I call “anchor” quilting: stitching in or near the ditch along the major seam lines to secure the quilt. Then I made additional passes across the quilt in both directions, creating a wavy grid. With each pass across the quilt, the gap in between the lines shrink. You can quilt a 2″ grid, 1″ grid, 1/2 grid, etc. depending on the look you want. Notice that nothing is marked – I just eyeball the spacing and it ends up looking great!!

Here’s a 4 minute silent video of me quilting the wavy grid on my LatticeWork quilt. I’m still getting the hang of editing videos but this is a good start!! Notice how I make one path across the quilt in both directions, then keep subdividing the area until the grid gets to the size I want. I hope you enjoy it!!

In the video above, notice how I stop and shift a lot. I’m quilting the area near my hands which is only a few inches at a time. When I feel like I’m starting to reach, that’s when it’s time to stop and shift the quilt. But you’ll get the hang of quickly so it’s not too disruptive.

I’m also quilting from edge to edge into the batting so I don’t have to worry about tying off my threads. I’ll just trim the excess and cover it all with binding when finished.

If you’d like to make this quilt , click either of the links below to purchase the pattern in your favorite format. I appreciate your support of my small mom and pop shop!

Lattice Work Quilt Pattern

If you have any questions about this quilt in particular, or the machine quilting process in general, please ask them in the comment box. I’d love you to enjoy making this quilt as much as I did!

LatticeWork quilt by Christa Watson

Happy piecing and quilting!!

Christa’s Soapbox: Thoughts About Being a QuiltCon Juror 2019

QuiltCon – the modern quilting show and conference hosted by The Modern Quilt Guild – has recently opened quilt submissions for their 2020 show, so I thought now would be an appropriate time to share about what it was like to be on the jury of the 2019 show.

I’ve attended every event since the first one in 2013, have been lucky enough to have at least one quilt in every show, and have taught there 3 times so far (2016, 2017, 2019). In fact, I credit QuiltCon and The MQG with changing the course of my quilting career – for the better! So it was quite an honor and great responsibility when they invited me to be on the jury for the 2019 show, which took place in Nashville in February.

Cute QuiltCon Ribbons

QuiltCon award ribbons from the very first show in 2013

Now as you can imagine, I’m taking a bit of a risk here in even talking about this publicly since I know what a heartbreak it can be when your quilt doesn’t get in. Trust me, I’ve read enough “what were they thinking??” comments on social media to make my stomach turn. And I really do wish I could reach out and give every single person a huge hug for entering your gorgeous, wonderful, fabulous quilts!! It was truly a pleasure to see all 1800+ of them!!

Therefore, I thought it would be helpful and educational to talk about the experience in an open and honest way, with my hope for you to understand more about the process. I’ll be as transparent about it as I can, and would ask you the courtesy of being polite in your comments about this post.

My Quilt, “Charming Chevrons” hung in the very first QuiltCon in 2013!!

What’s a Juried Quilt Show?

First of all, let’s start with the basics. A “juried” show means that in order to display your quilt in the show, you must fill out an artist statement and include a high quality digital image of your finished quilt. A  panel of “jurors” (usually 4-5 people) look at each and every submitted quilt and then vote on which ones they believe should be a part of the show. The number one reason why a show is “juried” is simply because of supply and demand. There are only so many spots to hang quilts, and the number of entries far out weighs the number of spots available.

For example, each year QuiltCon receives approximately 1500-1800 entries and only has room for about 350 quilts. So that means 3 out of 4 quilts simply will not hang in the show due to space constraints. By comparison, a large national show (such as Road to California, Paducah, AQS, etc.) will likely have space to display 600-700 quilts or more, and my guess is that they don’t get anywhere near as many quilt entires. In fact, a friend recently told me that the upcoming International Quilt festival in Houston was able to accept about 75% of the quilts submitted this year. So please keep that in mind as I share more thoughts below.

To be clear, the JURY process and the JUDGING process are done by completely different people. The jury decides which quilts will hang in the show for the  judges to see.

Spiraling out of Control

My quilt, “Spiraling out of Control” hung at QuiltCon in 2015. Some day I’ll make a pattern!!

The QuiltCon Jury Process

Most of what I’m sharing here has been shared publicly so I’m not spilling any well-kept secrets. It’s up to an individual juror to decide whether or not they want to let others know they were part of the jury (after the show has ended of course). For obvious reasons, most people tend to stay silent about it.

Click here to read QuiltCon’s published judging and jurying documents.

In a nutshell, each juror takes a look at each and every single quilt that has been entered and gives it a numerical ranking. No juror knows how any other juror is voting and the final number is based on an average of all scores by all jurors. The juror gets to see two images of the quilt – an overall shot and a detail image. They can also read the artists’ statements if they so choose, but the juror does NOT see the names of who submitted each quilt. In this way, jurying is “blind” and fair.

The quilts that get the highest ranking are then accepted into the show, up until the maximum number of entries.  When there is a tie – usually for the mid-range of scores above the cutoff – the jury meets to discuss those quilts in more detail and decide which ones will be accepted until the total has been met. The MAJORITY of quilts fall into this category. So if yours didn’t make it in, I’m sure it barely missed the cutoff! (So try, try again!!)

The only category that was not juried was the youth category (quilts made by members under the age of 18). According to The MQG FAQ, “in order to encourage the next generation of quilters, in this category at least one quilt is accepted per quilter, should space permit it.” So if you know a child that wants to get involved with the show, I highly recommend encouraging them to enter!

My quilt, “Focal Point” from my first book hung at QuiltCon in 2016.

The Jury Takes Their Job Very Seriously

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard false rumors that the jury has an “agenda” on which type of modern quilt will be accepted (or not). That’s simply not true. I can tell you from my experience that the jury is a well-rounded group of folks with diverse backgrounds, quilting experience, and areas of artistic expertise. However, one thing the jury all has in common is that they make modern quilts and understand the modern aesthetic.

I can only speak to my experience doing this one time, but I can assure you that we were not instructed to favor any type of quilt over any other, we were not told to create a certain look for the show (other than modern) and we were expected to look at the quilts objectively without bias or favoritism. If we felt we couldn’t judge a quilt fairly on its own merits, then we could recuse ourselves from judging that quilt. There was no absolutely no drama when it came to any discussions and the whole experience was completely professional.

The jury IS allowed to enter a quilt into the show, (as are the judges) but they are NOT allowed to be judged- AND the jurying is still blind. So none of the jury knew if they were voting on other members quilts! For full disclosure, I did get ONE quilt juried into this year’s show – my Blooming Wallflowers quilt – but I had entered two more that didn’t get accepted. So yes, I got those “reject” letters, too!!

Diamond in the Rough Quiltcon 2017

My quilt “Diamond in the Rough” hung in QuiltCon 2017 and was in QuiltCon magazine that year.
It will be part of the Aurifil exhibit at this year’s International Quilt Festival in Houston.

Why Quilt Photography Can Make or Break Your Quilt

Unfortunately, there were a number of quilts that weren’t accepted simply due to poor photography. If we can’t tell if it’s finished or not, if we can’t see the quilting, if we can’t see the edges or the binding, it most likely won’t get in. If there are people in the quilt photo blocking the quilt, we can’t see what you are trying to show.

Also, some people try to get a “leg up” on the competition by creating a collage of more than one photo in the same image which usually works to their detriment. If we can’t tell what we are looking at, it most likely goes in the “not accepted” pile. We don’t need to see the back of the quilt unless that’s the side you are entering. Just show the front on a clear flat surface, with nothing distracting in the picture. And don’t “style” the shot. We just want to see the quilt, not a beautiful background or distracting props.

Also, it breaks my heart to see a quilt entry with poor lighting or fuzzy focus. There have been times where I’ve seen a gorgeous quilt photo later on social media (after the entries have been finalized) and I thought, why didn’t they use THAT image for their entry instead of the fuzzy one?? So again: good, clear, well-lit, uncluttered photography is a MUST.

Color Weave Quilt

The original version of Color Weave hung at QuiltCon in 2018.
it was in Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine which is now sadly out of print!! 

My Personal Thoughts

The biggest take away from my experience on the jury is that it was extremely fair. For me, it was a very touching and heart-warming experience to look at each and every one of the quilts and read ALL of the artists’ statements. Some brought me to tears, others made me my heart sing with joy, and many made me think deeply about their work.

With over 1800 quilts to look at, I didn’t keep track of the hours and hours and HOURS I spent viewing all of the amazing, wonderful quilts. But It was the most uplifting quilting experience I’ve ever had – and if there were enough room, I would have accepted them all. I truly felt it an honor to interact with these quilts in such an intimate way.

One of the coolest things I heard this year was that so many quilters who were rejected previously were able to get something in this year. So you never know until you try. And I’ve seen many quilters who didn’t make it into QuiltCon go on to enter (and win) in other shows.

So I welcome your thoughtful questions and kind comments about the process. Of course I can’t speak to any individual quilts in the show as to why they were or were not accepted. And due to the sheer numbers of of quilts involved, there’s no feasible way to share individual juror feedback on any of the quilts. But what I can do is encourage you to enter future quilt shows.

Blooming Wallflowers by Christa Watson QuiltCon 2019

My one and only quilt that was juried into QuiltCon 2019 – Blooming Wallflowers.

It was so wonderful for my fellow jurors and I to be entrusted with your quilts. We all volunteered our time because we are just as passionate about quilts as you are. So please, if you entered a quilt and it didn’t get in, don’t think badly of the process, of THE MQG, or of your quilt. I can tell you personally that I saw your quilt and LOVED it – and would encourage you to keep making quilts, and PLEASE keep sharing them with the world!

I’m happy to continue this discussion in the comments as long as everyone plays nice. 🙂

Color Weave Quilt Along Week 6 – Stitching in the Ditch

Now we’ve reached my favorite part of the quilt-making process – machine quilting!! Quitling will be broken up into 2 parts so that it won’t feel so overwhelming. The quilting design I’ve chosen – random crosshatch, is actually very easy to do, but it can be a bit time-consuming if you like your quilting to be as dense as mine.

Random Crosshatch quilt plan

My favorite designs to quilt are those than can go all the way across the quilt without starting and stopping. That way I don’t have to worry about tying off and burying my threads. The random crosshatch above is basically a series of straight lines quilted across the quilt in both directions with a walking foot. You start and end each line of quilting in the batting, and that will get all trimmed up later once you add the binding.

Thread Choices

I also don’t want to stress too much over thread color. I prefer to use 1-2 colors for the whole quilt, if possible. My thread of choice is Aurifil 50 weight cotton because it comes in any color I need. It’s thin but strong and blends into the quilts I make rather than being the star of the show.

Because this quilt has so much color in it, I chose to use threads from my new Variegated Thread Collection. I used #4650 Leaves for the top of the quilt. Although it will show up on the gray sections, by the time I add lots of texture, it won’t be that noticeable.

Aurifil variegated thread

I like to “audition” my thread choices before I begin quilting.

For the bobbin, I used #3852 Liberty since it reads more pink. For 95% of my quilts, I use the same thread in top and bottom. But every now and then I’ll use two different colors when it makes sense.

The thread will still be visible on both sides, but with so many different colors (in the fabric and thread), these were the best choice. I made a practice piece with leftover scrap fabrics and tested both threads to make sure I’d be happy with the results before I started quilting my quilt.

Aurifil Variegated Thread

 #3852 Liberty and 4650 Leaves can both be found in my Variegated Thread Collection from Aurifil.

Machine Quilting – Stitch in the Ditch

To break the quilting into easier, doable steps, this week we’ll focus on just stitching in the ditch in both directions. This will secure the quilt for further quilting later, and will also evenly distribute the bulk of the quilting across the quilt. You can also decide at any point how lightly or densely you’d like to quilt the rest of the lines.

Here’s a short video clip showing how I deal with the quilt as I stitch in the ditch. I’m using my BERNINA dual feed foot which works the same way as a regular walking foot. I have an open toe so I can see what I’m doing and I reposition the quilt a lot so that my quilting lines are smooth the entire time. Also, pressing my seams open makes it sooo much easier to stay in the ditch!!

Notice in the video below that when I quilt an area without seams, I just eyeball the straight-line I’m stitching. Because it’s never more than 2″ that I have to eyeball, it works pretty well.

First, I started quilting from the right side of the quilt towards the middle. I quilted in the ditch every 2″ since that’s the finished size of my strips. I quilted all of the vertical seams first, then rotated the quilt and quilted all of the horizontal seems to create a quilted grid.

It’s easier to work from the side of the quilt towards the middle, because that’s less bulk to deal with at the beginning. By the time it gets too bulky, you’ll be halfway across the quilt and you can rotate the quilt, continuing from the center to the other side.

Here’s another video of me quilting from a wider angle. I really just scrunch and smoosh the quilt however I can, re-shifting whenever necessary.

Once I “anchor” or stabilize the quilt with ditching in both directions, I go back in and quilt randomly spaced lines, using the edge of my foot as a guideline for spacing. That will be our goal for next week, so I’ll see ya then!

IMPORTANT LINKS

Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – paper version
Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – digital download
Click here to purchase the Abstract Garden strip roll
Click here to get my Aurifil thread collections
Click here for links to the previous quilt along posts
Click here to share your progress in my Facebook group